Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) — who is challenging House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the conservative alternative to replace House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) — said he would be willing to risk a default on the national debt or a government shutdown to extract demands from President Obama.
“I have no interest in just simply raising the debt ceiling without changing the trajectory of spending,” Chaffetz told CNN Monday. “It’s a time where we should be reflecting on, what are we going to do so that we don’t have to keep changing the debt ceiling and raising it.”
The Treasury Department has signaled a Nov. 5 deadline for raising the debt ceiling, which is only days after Boehner is set to step down from the speakership. In 2011, Standard & Poors downgraded the U.S.’s credit rating after Republicans seemed willing to blow past the debt ceiling deadline.
“It’s silly for the president to say he’s not even going to have this discussion,” Chaffetz said Monday. He also said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was “wrong” for promising that there would be no government default on the national debt.
“I think it’s wrong to signal that you’re going to cave at the end,” Chaffetz said. “That’s not what I’m interested in doing.”
He also said McConnell was wrong to say there would be no government shutdowns on Republicans’ watch. Congress recently averted a shutdown scare by passing a short-term spending bill that included Planned Parenthood funding, over the objections of anti-abortion hardliners.
“The shutdown decision is the President’s. Our role and responsibility is to put the bill on his desk, and then he has to decide if he wants to shut down the government,” Chaffetz said.